Can I Use Salicylic Acid with Retinol and Niacinamide?

Can I Use Salicylic Acid with Retinol and Niacinamide?

We’ve been focusing on skin ingredient layering on The Beauty Insiders blog recently, it’s something I enjoy writing about, but you all seem to be gaining more interest in making your skincare deliver the best and most effective results. With the vast selection of high performing formulas available achieving these skin results has become so easy, the only snag, figuring out which ingredients can work together, and which should be avoided. So, with today's post lets turn our attention to salicylic acid and whether or not you can team it with retinol and niacinamide.

Can I use niacinamide with salicylic acid?

You can indeed use niacinamide with salicylic acid together, but there are a few steps to take to ensure you reap the rewards of using these powerhouse ingredients. Both niacinamide and salicylic acid can help improve the overall appearance of the skin, from uneven texture, pigmentation, signs of ageing like fine lines and wrinkles as well as any concerns with acne. What you will find is that due to these ingredients have different pH levels, with salicylic acid having lower levels between 3-4 whereas niacinamide is higher reaching 5-7. By mixing these together without giving the skin enough time to fully absorb each ingredient can result in the skin becoming flushed with signs of redness.

To prevent this, I would suggest applying niacinamide and salicylic acid in the form of a serum, first opting for the salicylic acid serum followed by the niacinamide. This is a general idea of how you can use these ingredients in your routine, having said that, there is a full dedicated blog post about using them together which goes into more detail including how to use them depending on your skin type.

What is Niacinamide?

A popular humectant that is a form of vitamin B3 which can deliver impressive hydrating benefits to the skin. It is able to do this by drawing in water from the air surrounding the face and other products applied to the skin. You’ll find the overall look and feel of your complexion is vastly improved and left plumped, youthful with a healthy glow. It’s also a great ingredient to use with salicylic acid as the hydration boost means you are able to counteract the dryness salicylic acid and other acids tend to cause to the skin.

What is Salicylic Acid?

The most used BHA in skincare products, it is able to reach further down into the pores clearing them from build-up of bacteria, impurities and excess sebum that over time can build-up and cause breakouts, such as spots and blackheads. You’ll also find it offers exfoliation and can slough away dead skin cells that can form a layer on the surface of the skin making it look patchy, flaky and dull. Salicylic acid is a highly effective ingredient for oily skin types, but, can cause some dryness for those with a dry and sensitive skin. With this in mind its best to check with a doctor to ensure your skin will be happy with you using this potent Beta Hydroxy Acid.

Can I use retinol and salicylic acid together?


Yes, you can, but ensuring you apply them in the correct way. When using salicylic acid and retinol together you will find they are both great at combating any skin concerns that include breakouts or blemishes. The downside is they can both cause a lot of dryness and irritation so using them together needs to be in a way that will result with you seeing improvement to your overall complexion with minimal impact and keeping the skin healthy and happy. The best way of using these beneficial ingredients would be to use a face wash or cleanser containing salicylic acid, this will mean the skin is left clean but would not have had the acid on the skin long enough to cause irritation. Continue with your routine until you reach the serum, moisturiser or oil stage which should be the product that contains retinol. You’d want the retinol to remain of your skin for a longer amount of time to ensure you gain the full effect of this clever ingredient.

Another way of using salicylic acid and retinol together is by applying them during different parts of your day. For example, applying a serum or cleanser enriched in salicylic acid would be ideal during your morning routine, not forgetting of course, to apply a daily SPF. Retinol should be applied in your evening routine as exposure to UV rays can cause the form of vitamin A to become completely useless, by using it in your evening routine you are allowing retinol to work uninterrupted for the optimal amount of time whilst you are catching up on your beauty sleep. 

What is Retinol?

This form of vitamin A has gained a reputation as one of the most effective skincare ingredients to use. It contains an impressive amount of skin benefiting properties that can help target concerns such as frequent breakouts and reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. As popular as retinol is however, this ingredient carries with it a few dos and don’ts and introducing it into your routine should be followed as instructed to prevent any allergic reactions or severe side effects of dryness and irritation. Find out more about retinol and how to introduce it into your routine by checking out our blog post.

Should I use salicylic acid before niacinamide?

Yes and no, it all really boils down to the level of concentrate and whether to use single products containing both of these ingredients in the formulas. By this I mean if you are really wanting to gain all the results from using these powerhouse ingredients, then using products containing high levels of niacinamide, for example, will improve the health of the skin barrier with the added boost of hydration allowing your skin to protect itself from exposure to free radical damage. As for using products containing high concentrates of salicylic acid you may find it can cause dryness and tightness which is the main reason it is advisable to apply niacinamide after salicylic acid as the humectant traits are able to stop any dryness from occurring dead in its tracks. As always, I do advise that you perform a patch test of any new skincare product for 24 hours before applying it all over the skin, this will mean you shouldn’t experience any discomfort or flare up in skin irritation.

Should I use niacinamide before or after retinol?

By now, you all have an understanding of how some ingredients work together, retinol and niacinamide are two that can be used together in the same product or combined together during application. By doing this you can expect to see several skin benefits with an improvement on the overall appearance and health of your complexion. Your skin barrier is protected and hydrated by the niacinamide, whilst retinol is busily working at exfoliating and rejuvenating the lower layers of the skin. This power team will help restore balance, health and luminosity back to the skin without any worry of irritation.

Can I use salicylic acid with retinol and niacinamide?

The simple answer, is yes, the more complicated answer is. As mentioned before, you can change the time of day you use these ingredients, for example, your morning routine could include a salicylic acid enriched face wash followed by retinol teamed with niacinamide in your evening routine. This will not overload the skin with too many products that are prone to causing some signs of irritation or dryness but instead you will achieve the results that all these ingredients have to offer. If your skin is happy for you to use this way of application then by all means continue using your routine the way that works for you, just remember to keep an eye on how your skin is feeling to avoid any flare ups.

If you have any further questions about layering these ingredients together don’t forget you can find more over on the Procoal Instagram

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